Europe needs united efforts, reforms to fight crisis: Merkel

Europe needs united efforts, reforms to fight crisis: Merkel

In her opening speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting here on Wednesday, Merkel said that Europe needs to move forward with structural political reforms if it is to resolve the sovereign debt crisis and put to rest doubts about the region's unity and viability.

Her comments come at a time when the spiralling European debt turmoil is threatening to derail the fragile global economic growth. Merkel noted that while Germany strongly supports the single European currency (euro), the country is not prepared to make any guarantees.

"It is not that we don't wish to show solidarity and have binding commitments. But what we don't want is to promise something that we can't fulfill," she said. The debt crisis has raised concerns about the viability of the euro -- a currency that is shared by 17 nations.

At the core of the crisis are weaknesses in the competitiveness of many European countries and deficits that have accrued over the years, the German Chancellor pointed out.

"There is a clear lack of political structures and underpinnings to make  this work... We are not going to become faint of heart. But we will not be able to wave a magic wand to address this. Yet at some point in time, we have to do something about these weaknesses," she said.

Pitching for creation of more jobs in the region, Merkel emphasised the need for structural reforms that would allow genuine labour mobility in Europe.

"Now we have to do something constructive. The question is do we dare to do so... We have to show that sustainable growth of Europe becomes a benchmark for global economy.

"We (in Europe) are no longer using excuses... otherwise we will lose reputation, over the next two years we will have more integration, we will need to create more jobs," she said.

Merkel said it is important to maintain the prosperity of Europe as a whole.
Noting that Germany is going to participate in reducing the imbalances in the European Union area, Merkel said Europe has an opportunity to prove that it can be a role model and play a major role in the global economy.

According to her, G-20 countries would need to work on financial market regulation and securing free trade against increasing signs of protectionism. Touching upon the WTO Doha round of trade talks, she noted that it is crucial and the next meeting of G-20 leaders would be important for the way forward.

"There would be numerous hindrances that need to be addressed... We need to take along all the countries together, including Japan, India and many others outside Europe," the German Chancellor said.

During a Q&A session after the opening speech, Merkel said there is a strong European Union system in place.

"I hope almost all countries would become members of the euro," she said in response to a question, but was evasive when asked whether she meant the UK and Denmark.

The German Chancellor pointed out that it is not an easy task to tackle problems in Europe. "Politics in different countries have a role to play, at times there are also problems like communications problems, the language barrier. It is not an easy task (to tackle the European problem), but we have to do it," she noted.

Merkel stressed that she wants to make Europe an attractive investment destination.
"I would invite the business community to Europe, I want to make Europe an attractive investment destination and I'm absolutely convinced that we would be able to tackle the problem," she said.

More than 2,600 people from government, the academia, business and civil society are attending the WEF annual meeting, whose theme is 'The Great Transformation: Shaping New Models'.